An Optimist Says that the Glass is Half Empty

Something always bugged me about the adage, “the glass is half full.” I did not agree with the conventional wisdom, but I could not explain why. Now for some strange reason, after reading (actually struggling through) G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy,” I believe I can organize my thoughts into words.

A glass is a tool designed to be filled. If you need more water you find a bigger glass. If you need less water you either find a smaller glass or half-fill your glass. So if your glass is half-empty, that means one of two things happened. Either you have already drunk from the glass and quenched your thirst, or you only needed half a glass to begin with. Either way, that is good news. When asked if the glass is half full or half empty the optimistic answer is therefore, “half empty.” The half empty glass reveals a tool that was either used properly or it is a sign of abundance and excess.

The pessimist’s glass is half-full. The half-filled glass is a sign that the pessimist does not have enough. The pessimist is self-serving and always complaining that he does not have enough.